ANTI-NPA. Residents of Catubig, Northern Samar join a peace rally in this Feb. 25, 2022 photo. At least 15 more remote villages in Northern Samar have been cleared of New People's Army threats based on the recent evaluation by the Philippine Army and local government units. (Photo courtesy of Philippine Army 20th Infantry Battalion)

TACLOBAN CITY – At least 15 more remote villages in Northern Samar have been cleared of New People’s Army (NPA) threats based on the recent evaluation by the Philippine Army and local government units.

These villages are Quezon and San Jose in Mapanas town; Anito, Bangon, Cabarasan, Dao, Lonoy, and San Antonio in Gamay; Cabatuan, Campedico, Magsaysay, Maragano, Natawo and Bagacay in Palapag; Can Omanio and Pio del Pilar in Lapinig.

2nd Lt. Joyce Ann Bayron, Philippine Army’s 20th Infantry Battalion spokesperson, said in a phone interview Friday that these areas attained the status through an area clearing evaluation held from July 12 to 13.

After a thorough evaluation of the panel, these communities were found to be clear, peaceful, and resilient from conflicts.

These 15 villages were cleared after it was found that locals have stopped providing any support to the communist terrorist group, hence, driving away the armed rebels from communities.

“Community Support Program (CSP) team members presented what they have found, and this was confirmed by village chiefs. Local officials were given the chance to raise their concerns to the members of the municipal task force to end local communist armed conflict,” Bayron said.

CSP is a flagship program of the Armed Forces of the Philippines used to clear communities of NPA infestation and to bring the government closer to the people through faster delivery of basic services.

Among the parameters used in area-clearing validation include the solutions that address the issues exploited by the NPA, denial of access of the rebels to local resources, and establishment and functionality of local task force to end local communist armed conflict.

The military said the communist terrorists have stopped receiving financial support and food supplies from communities with the rollout of development initiatives.

Several supporters also surrendered due to the weakening support to the rebels.

The Communist Party of the Philippines-NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines.

The Anti-Terrorism Council also formally designated the National Democratic Front as a terrorist organization on June 23, 2021, citing it as “an integral and inseparable part” of the CPP-NPA that was created in April 1973. (PNA)